Oswald Garrison Villard to Jane Addams, October 11, 1919



Oct. 11, 1919

Personal and Private

Miss Jane Addams
Hull House
Chicago, Illinois

Dear Miss Addams:

It will probably not surprise you to hear that it has become necessary to plan at once for an underwriting fund for The Nation for the next three years if it is not to slip out of Liberal hands next Spring. After the sale of The Evening Post, I set aside a very considerable sum of money to maintain the paper, hoping that it would be sufficient [to] keep it going for five years. But the tremendous and unlooked for rapidity of our success put heavier burdens upon me [than] I had anticipated. Thus, instead of having a little medium of ten or twelve thousand readers, as I had hoped, we now have, according to our August figures, 31,727 and will probably show a higher figure of net paid subscribers every month from now on. We are not able to print this week on account of the strike. As soon as we start up again, our edition will be 44,500. Unfortunately, as the New Republic is pointing out, mediums of this kind cannot be made to support themselves until they get at least 100,000 readers, and the deficit is so enormous while getting these 100,000 readers that few publications of this kind weather the trial period. Therefore, I must go to work at once to raise a guarantee fund of $125,000 for three years, to which I will contribute $25,000 a year if the fund can be drawn upon from the first of January on.

Mrs. Leach is going to aid me, but has not yet fixed the figure. At present her contribution is $12,000 a year and I hope it will be [page 2] $20,000 for the guarantee fund. Mrs. Neilson has withdrawn her support because we are not radical enough on the land question to suit her and her husband. They are planning to start another Liberal Journal of their own, which is a great pity because it makes too much competition in the narrow Liberal field. It will probably hurt us, The New Republic and The Dial. The Dial too, is struggling for existence.

To come to the point, I am planning to leave for Chicago about the 23d or 24th of the month, as I have a speaking engagement there on the 29th, and I want to raise some of this money there.

I do not believe that I am asking too much of you to help me because I know that you will understand that I am not asking for Oswald Villard or even for The Nation as such, but for the cause. There are many who feel that the disappearance of The Nation would be ↑an↓ irrevocable loss to the cause of Liberalism and yet that it will take place inevitably next year unless help is forthcoming. The friends who contribute must be willing to contribute as they would to an orchestra or an opera; that is, I cannot offer them any guarantee in return for their money, nor is it worth while to try to put a large bond or stock issue upon the property.

Among the Chicago names suggested are Mr. Lasker (?), the great advertising man, Mr. Joseph Shaffner, of Hart, Shaffner and Marx and Mrs. Julius Rosenwald. Mr. Rosenwald is one of the backers of The Review, the new New York publication which is meant to offset the pernicious influence of The Nation and the New Republic, but Dr. Magnes thinks that if we get at Mrs. Rosenwald the story might be different. Are there any other names that you would add to this list?

I know that you have had your own trials about money raising and that you have had the experience of the rest of us of losing valuable supporters because of your position, and yet I have the hope that you will be able to suggest some Liberals who will stand behind this publication. Will you let me know as soon as you can?

Always faithfully,